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May 26, 2016. Life / The IUCN Red List

Sustainable Management of Species

The escalation in illegal trade and poaching of wildlife is fast becoming a significant threat to the survival of many species

Jane Smart, Craig Hilton-Taylor, Russell A. Mittermeier

Chronic poaching and trafficking affect thousands of species of mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles. In addition, the live-collection of individual plants poses a threat to cacti, cycads, orchids, and other plant species, while the world’s fisheries, both marine and freshwater, continue to be decimated by illegal activities.

When managed sustainably and traded legally, however, the commercial use of species can contribute positively to conservation, livelihoods, and national revenues.

Actions to prevent illegal trade are needed at source, transit and destination countries. Although some actions have been implemented through conventions like CITES and targeted initiatives, such as the African Elephant Action Plan and, for Asian rhinos, the Bandang Lampung Declaration, greater effort is needed in the following areas:

  • Protecting sites in order to restore and maintain depleted wild populations.
  • Law enforcement at the site level.
  • Strengthened law enforcement, both nationally and between countries, is needed to support the judicial and customs sectors.
  • Greater awareness and effort are needed to reduce the demand for illegal wildlife products.

The IUCN Red List reminds us that a significant proportion of the planet’s species are threatened with extinction. While pervasive threats such as habitat loss, pollution, invasive species, and climate change are the main drivers of population decline for many species, the illegal killing and collection of species looms as a serious threat to others.


This is an excerpt from the CEMEX Conservation Series THE IUCN RED LIST (2014)


The IUCN Red List

50 Years of Conservation

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